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Sleeping Beauty

May 10, 2012

Paris is great, but sometimes you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. After eight days in Paris, we packed up our suitcases and headed to the train station.

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Our destination was Chinon, a small town south west an hour away from the city of Tours.

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We picked Chinon because it’s located in the Loire Valley, known for good wine and old chateaus. It turned out to be a perfect medieval town, laid back and welcoming of tourists.

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Once again, we lucked in with our choice of hotel. We stayed at a family-owned bed and breakfast Hotel Didirot. The folks at the hotel spoke excellent English, and were super friendly and accommodating. They also had a small bar with a great selection of local wines for very reasonable prices (2-3 euros a glass Smile). The best part of all was the breakfast – real coffee (Paris only had espressos or cappuccinos at 3 euros a pop), baskets of fresh bread, goat cheese, walnuts, and a wide range of jams that are actually made at the hotel. My mouth is watering as I am typing this!

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The only exercise besides walking that I did during the entire trip is when we headed for a 16 mile bike ride to Château d’Ussé.

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This Chateau was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale so the rooms were staged with scenes from the book.

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For a more mature audiences, there were rooms with decorations and clothing exhibition.

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When you live in a Chateau, you’ll also need your own chapel, winery and stable.

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and of course, you’ll need a garden with pretty flowers to stroll in.

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After touring Chateau d’Usse and a fairly unimpressive lunch, we headed back to check out Chateau de Chinon. Apparently this is where the king resided when the country was under the British occupation back in the 15th century. Joan of Arc came here after her victorious visions to ask for the army to fight the British. She ended up bringing the crown of France back to Henry IV.

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Unlike the first castle, this one was more of a military fort with numerous towers along its perimeter.

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Besides beautiful and historic castles, the region of Chinon is known for its wine. Unlike most of the North American wineries that we’ve visited, a lot of Chinon wineries are in caves where the temperature and moisture levels are perfect for aging grapes. One of the wineries was conveniently located about 10 minute bike ride from our hotel. 6 tastings and 5 “souvenir” bottles of wine later we safely returned to our hotel.

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THE BEST POST IS YET TO COME…

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